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The Taft High School Senators were the aggressors in a battle against the 2018 State Champion Deer Park on Friday night. Taft got off to a slow start, but would go on a scoring surge at the end of the second half, never looking back to win the game 78-71.

Despite getting easy looks at the basket, Taft struggled early finding themselves down 13-2 before Demarco Bradley Jr hit a couple of corner three-pointers to spark a run, closing the gap to five at the first quarter break.

Taft remained aggressive in the second quarter by cutting off Deer Park on multiple drives to the basket and even coming up with a few blocked shots by Nekhi Smith, but foul trouble kept the game close as the Senators led 35-33 at half time.

At the beginning of the third, Taft found what they needed to counter brief runs from Deer Park, as Romello Carleon hit some clutch shots from beyond the arch. However, foul trouble once again plagued the Senators and Deer Park was able to keep the game close.

The grit and relentless attack of Taft took over in the second half as both teams settled in. Taft forced Deer Park to turn the ball over several times down the stretch, and hot shooting from Bradley and Carleon only helped. Taft and the packed gym were then treated by a THUNDEROUS dunk by Stinger at the end of the third quarter that sent the entire crowd into a frenzy. Stinger was greeted by his teammates with chest bumps and high fives at the buzzer. See the dunk here courtesy of Basketball Hustle TV!

"Our playing style is fast, hard and physical", Coach Bradley said when describing how the game went. In the end, that style of play resulted in too much for Deer Park to handle and Taft now finds themselves atop the city rankings for D2 hoops!

Story by Theo Caldwell // Photo taken by Anthony Tribble, Cincinnati Enq

While we focus on high school athletics in the CMAC, we can't forget about our Jr High students! Click here for the CPS Jr High Basketball schedule

Cincinnati Enquirer Coaches' Poll

BOYS

DIVISION 2

1) Taft

3) Hughes

4) Aiken

DIVISION 4

3) Gamble

9) Oyler

Click here to see the city coaches' polls!

With fall sports officially wrapped up for the year, all eyes focus on winter sports for the Cincinnati Metro Athletic Conference.

Wrestling

Aiken, Hughes, Shroder, Taft, Western Hills, Woodward

Over the past five years, the CMAC has seen tremendous growth in wrestling. This season, the "Big 6" schools all plan to have teams that will compete throughout the course of the season, ultimately to square off at the CMAC Invitational at Hughes High School on February 16!

Keep an eye out for Aiken and Western Hills to continue setting the standard for excellence as they return students like Jarmon Hargrove and Reggie Taylor-Benton to make runs for State and the CMAC title!

Academic Quiz Team

Aiken, Hughes, Shroder, Taft, Western Hills, Woodward

Aiken has now won back-to-back Academic Quiz Team championships in the CMAC and they'll set out to three-peat! The field is wide open this year and we'll keep a close eye on who comes out hot to start the season!

Basketball

Boys Red Division

Aiken, Hughes, Shroder, Taft, Western Hills, Woodward

Boys Blue Division

CCPA, Gamble, Hillcrest, Oyler, Riverview East, SCPA

Some can argue that CMAC Basketball is the highlight of the school year in regards to athletics. In 2018-19, we'll see two separate divisions within the CMAC for the first time ever.

The Red Division is made up of the "Big 6" schools that have been in the CMAC since it's inception. If we look at those schools, Taft currently holds bragging rights as they look to defend their conference regular season title from just a year ago. Each team in the division graduated some key pieces and will look to reload in what's sure to be some of the most entertaining competition in the city this winter!

Taft, Hughes and Aiken seem to be making the most noise coming into 2018-19 as they each reached the District Semi-Final during last year's post-season. With each school bringing back experienced head coaches and young play-makers, anything can happen.

Taft returns Demarco Bradley and Chris'seon Stringer, while adding depth in the front court with transfer Nekhi Smith.

Hughes lost all five starters from last season but it's worth noting the arrival of Paul McMillan IV. A top recruit on the national level mixed with experienced role players could put the Big Red in contention once February comes around.

Aiken lost some major fire power when they graduated Blake Smith, however emerging point guard Jakada Stone comes back with D'Arris Dean by his side in an explosive offense. Watch out the Falcons.

Western Hills brings accomplished head coach Mark Mitchell back to the CMAC, Shroder continues to develop with Dartanion Battle and a cast of young guys and Woodward will look to build off their momentum from last season's incredible run to the Regional Semi-Finals.

The entire CMAC Blue is brand new to the CMAC this season. With a lot to prove, we'll keep a close eye on each school as they adjust to a new conference schedule.

Girls Red Division

Aiken, Hughes, Shroder, Taft, Western Hills, Woodward

Girls Blue Division

CCPA, Gamble, Oyler, Riverview East, SCPA

With just as many exciting headlines, girls basketball is set to begin the season on November 23!

Shroder is coming off back-to-back CMAC regular season titles but the Jags will look to form a new identity as they lost a lot of productivity from last year's team.

Taft lost a dominant forward in Lynese Brown, but the Senators defense should be a force, as usual. Coming off a season in which they averaged 14 steals per game as a team, Coach Rhonda Craig knows how to get her girls to play as a unit.

Aiken, Woodward, Western Hills and Hughes were all separated by just three games in CMAC play last season so expect close and competitive match-ups when conference play starts!

Similar to the boys, our CMAC Blue division brings in a whole slate of new schools that will look to make an immediate impact. Stay tuned to cmacstats.com and follow us on twitter at @cmacsports for all the latest scores and updates!

DON'T FORGET! There will be a girl's basketball pre-season preview at Aiken High School this Saturday! This will also include a basketball clinic for elementary girls, which will be followed by a meet n' greet with high school students. Afterwards, everybody is invited to stay and watch the each school scrimmage before the season's official opening. Don't miss out! Come support #CMACsports!

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